Welsh describes Air Force of the future

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the future, the Air Force’s core missions will probably not change, but the way they are carried out will, said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III on April 8.

Welsh, speaking to the Defense Writers Group, said the Air Force’s missions include air and space superiority, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.

Those missions “are what the joint force requires to be successful,” the general said.

New technologies, new methods and new domains will change the way Airmen do their jobs, Welsh said.

“The hot jobs will be probably be in the cyber domain (and) they will be in remotely piloted aircraft,” he said.

The RPA career field is growing leaps and bounds, the general said. Airmen currently working in this field are figuring out what the technology can do and how it can be worked into today’s and tomorrow’s service.

“Many of them came in to do this, which is a change from 10 years ago,” Welsh said. “They are really excited about the potential and what it brings.”

These Airmen are working to figure how to work RPAs with manned aircraft, he said, and they are the ones figuring how micro-miniaturization technology can be used and what it will bring to the table.

There will also be more traditional jobs, too, Welsh said with a smile.

“We’re going to get the same kind of people who we’ve gotten for years,” the general said. “They want to fly the F-22 (Raptor), the F-35 (Lightning II), the X-wing fighter. Those people still want to come do this and we’ll have options for them in the future.”

Some of the systems the Air Force has in the current inventory will still be in use in 2035, but what is carried aboard these platforms will bring new capabilities to the service, the joint force and the nation, Welsh said.

“A lot of how the Air Force looks will depend on what the budget looks like and what the economy looks like,” he said. “It could look a lot more robust, it could look a lot more modern, or it could look like it does today. The danger is that we settle for that. That won’t be good for us.”